The fall of the Iron Curtain brought about immense changes in the lives of people in the Czech Republic. Moreover, the collapse of the USSR and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact caused irreversible changes in our defence requirements.
During the Cold War, the Czech territory served as a mere buffer zone for the Eastern bloc, thus, if war with the armies of the West had broken out, the whole of Czechoslovakia would have been turned into a battle field. To be able to fight off such an attack, a massive conscripted land army was essential.
In 1989, when the Communist regimes collapsed, the Czechoslovak Army comprised some 200,000 servicemen. To put this number more into perspective, it must be stressed that at present the Czech Armed Forces represent a force of approximately 20,000 servicemen.
After the Cold War, the Czech Republic sought its accession to NATO so that its security continued to be granted by a larger force. Hence, one may say that the new democratic government, which replaced the Communist leaders of the past, merely swapped the Warsaw Pact for NATO to achieve the same goal. Although there is some truth in this, the world itself is now a very different place. For one, the Czech Republic does not face a clearly defined enemy poised for land invasion. Instead, new threats, such as terrorism, have emerged. Secondly, the Czech territory is not likely to be turned into a battlefield as it is surrounded by NATO member countries. All this makes the argument for a massive conscripted army rather irrelevant. Instead, it is imperative to have a small, flexible, and, above all, professional army ready to deploy its contingents abroad in a full cooperation with other NATO member states.
To achieve such a goal, precise knowledge of NATO armies together with continuous modernisation of military equipment as well as a good command of the English language is required. Such challenges also constitute a considerable burden on public expenditures and thus Czech politicians are often tempted to freeze financial means put aside for modernisation of the Armed Forces. Needless to say such efforts may prove costly in the future.
Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact are products of the Cold War. While the latter broke up, the former managed to transform itself to face the security challenges of the modern world and grants collective security on an unprecedented scale. It is this sense of collective security which brings responsibility to the leaders of the Czech Republic to build respectable Armed Forces which are fully compatible with their NATO counterparts. In this respect, there is undoubtedly room for further improvement.
The term “War on Terrorism”
The term “War on Terrorism” was coined by former US president George W. Bush following the so called Manhattan Raid in September 2001. President Bush then gave a name to what largely became known as US military operations mainly in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq. The term has ever since been used so widely by so many people that it practically became a cliché, i.e. a convenient way of naming, and perhaps even justifying, not only military interventions, but also political proposals to restrict human rights. Thus, rather conveniently, the term “War on Terrorism” has become an umbrella term for most of the evils which the United States faces.
First and foremost, President Bush used this term to express his anger over the death of thousands of US citizens killed during Al-Qaida’s multiple attacks in New York. The footages of planes crashing into the WTC buildings shocked the world and brought about an unprecedented wave of